TCRA denies support but Proof Brewing Co.’s $3.4 million renovation project will go forward

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tcra proof brewing
The Proof Brewing Company project (image from TCRA)

The Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency (TCRA) has voted 3-2 to reject a request from Proof Brewing Co. for $450,000 to spend on interior renovations at its new location on South Monroe Street, but overall $3.4 million project will still go forward, the developers say.

Proof purchased a former Coca-Cola bottling plant on March 1 as part of a $960,000 land swap with DoubleTree hotel owner J.T. Burnette. In exchange for the Coke plant, Burnette in return received title to the Whiskey House bar and liquor store on Tennessee Street.

The brewery’s owners plan renovate the 70-year-old, 32,000-sq. ft. building, which has been vacant for years. They had requested the $450,000 — or 14 percent of construction costs — to cover changes requested by CRA staff, including windows on the back wall along South Adams Street, and expansion of its planned beer garden, the Tallahassee Democrat has reported. The total cost of construction, real estate and equipment is around $6.2 million.

Proof owner Byron Burroughs was present at the meeting and left without making a comment. Reached by phone later, he said: “We’ll continue with our project and giving back to the community.”

Commissioners were divided over how the CRA money should be spent, while several residents spoke out against the potential harm a brewery could cause to the neighbourhood.

“I believe CRA funds should go to infrastructure to transform blighted areas into commercial enterprise,” City Commissioner Scott Maddox said in explaining why he was against giving money to Proof. “When you give a grant for dollars for interior you are giving an unfair competitive advantage. You are picking winners and losers.”d

The brewery’s owners plan to spend $3.4 million renovating the 70-year-old, 32,000-square-foot building, which has been vacant for years. It had requested the $450,000 — or 14 percent of construction costs — to cover changes requested by CRA staff, including windows on the back wall along South Adams Street, and expansion of its planned beer garden. The total cost of construction, real estate and equipment is around $6.2 million.

Several residents attending the meeting expressed opposition to the grant request.

Resident William Tucker noted that Proof is already in line to get tax incentives from the Office of Economic Development, so why is the CRA grant needed, he asked.

Proof should receive a 70 percent reimbursement for development fees and an additional 70 percent reimbursement of the city property tax paid on the land, improvements and tangible personal property for seven years.

In addition, the county will provide reimbursement of the property taxes equal to the amount reimbursed by the city for the Target Business Program, estimated at $97,400, the OEV reported.

“The business is extremely well-capitalized,” he said.

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